This is our old blog. It hasn't been active since 2011. Please see the link above for our current blog or click the logo above to see all of the great data and content on this site.

American League left fielders are terrible so far

Posted by Andy on May 29, 2011

Reader Eddy E. wrote in with this gem:

as LF 706 2996 2705 308 623 124 19 60 292 228 605 .230 .294 .357 .651 965 .274 83 83
as C 706 2785 2490 262 567 121 5 73 294 237 533 .228 .298 .368 .666 917 .259 87 92
as 3B 706 2868 2556 301 603 142 8 63 334 244 494 .236 .306 .372 .678 950 .267 90 97
as 2B 706 3022 2698 349 668 144 13 52 275 235 473 .248 .312 .368 .681 994 .280 91 98
as SS 706 2938 2629 339 685 117 18 53 271 209 427 .261 .319 .379 .698 997 .291 96 104
as CF 706 3048 2763 390 722 143 30 74 307 223 564 .261 .320 .415 .735 1147 .303 106 100
as DH 688 2969 2619 313 685 145 4 74 342 308 519 .262 .340 .405 .745 1060 .298 110 102
as 1B 706 3017 2660 342 707 153 6 95 363 302 543 .266 .343 .435 .778 1157 .298 118 101
as RF 706 3040 2662 360 711 134 13 95 344 307 507 .267 .347 .434 .782 1156 .295 119 98
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/29/2011.

These are AL batting splits by position so far this year. As you can see, the LF cumulatively have an 83 OPS+ putting them as the worst group relative to league average (excluding pitchers, who have a very small number of PAs this year in the AL and are, of course, pitchers.) In raw numbers, LFers have a .651 OPS relative to a league average of .713. They are down about 25 points in OBP and 35 points in SLG.

Some of the guys to have played at least half their time at LF so far this year and have contributed to the poor performance include Delmon Young, Vernon Wells, Travis Snider, Ryan Raburn, Felix Pie, David Murphy, Carl Crawford, Sam Fuld, and Juan Pierre. These guys all have an OPS+ of 83 or less so far in 2011.

The only full-time AL LF who's crushing it is Alex Gordon, to the tune of a 135 OPS+.  Luke Scott and Josh Willingham are also doing well, as the combo of Brett Gardner and Andruw Jones has been decent.

Also, just to emphasize how weird this overall performance is, in 2010 the AL LF position had a tOPS+ of 109. In 2009 it was 104. You have to go all the way back to 1999 to find an AL LF tOPS+ under 100. That year it was 96, and that's only because there was so much offense from all positions that most of the values hovered right around 100. Before that, I went back to the 1970s and didn't find any tOPS+ under 100--back then it was as we think of it--corner outfield was a power position and one of the leaders among OPS every year.

Also, to further show how odd it is, over in the NL, the LFers have a 117 tOPS+ so far this season. Guys raking so far include Matt Holliday, Logan Morrison, Ryan Bruan, Jason Bourgeois, Laynce Nix, Alfonso Soriano, and Chris Heisey. Plus there are a handful of other regular LFers have decent seasons: Mike Morse, Pat Burrell, Jerry Sands, and Jose Tabata. These guys have overcome disappointing starts from Carlos Gonzalez (99 OPS+), Raul Ibanez (90), Carlos Lee (85), Tony Gwynn (45), and others.

13 Responses to “American League left fielders are terrible so far”

  1. Timmy P Says:

    Andy what are the "other" positions listed? In the splits for ML I see 8 PA for a position of "other". Just curious, thanks.

  2. Evil Squirrel Says:

    I believe "other" are pinch hitters who get a second at bat before the inning ends, meaning they don't have a designated position (And you can only pinch hit once). I always found it intriguing that there is no accepted way to classify such at bats (BR uses "Other", Retrosheet uses the generic "H" as the position indicator)

  3. Timmy p Says:

    @2 Thanks, forgot about the PH hitting more than once.

  4. bluejaysstatsgeek Says:

    And Corey Patterson's OPS and a LF'er is 0.745, 14% above position average. Given the previous entry, I felt compelled to through that in.

  5. John Q Says:

    Wow! that's kind of shocking. Normally LF should be right up there with DH and 1B. It's very odd that Al teams have had so much trouble with LF this year.

    Here's a couple a thoughts on why this number is so low this year:

    *Carl Crawford was really struggling this year after signing a huge contract. Crawford's ops+ is at 83 right now his career average is 106 so his number should go up.

    *Bret Gardner is essentially a CF playing LF. Gardner should be playing CF and Granderson should be in LF.

    *Sam Fuld has been awful for the Rays in LF and to make it worse he's been batting leadoff so he gets more plate appearances. The Rays would probably be better of with Damon in LF.

    *Travis Snider was terrible for the Blue Jays this year.

    *When Sizemore got hurt Brantley had to go to CF and Austin Kearns was horrible in left for the Indians.

    *Ryan Raburn has been terrible for the Tigers

    *Juan Pierre has been terrible for the White Sox

    *Delmon Young has been brutal for the Twins.

    *David Murphy has been terrible for the Rangers

    *Milton Bradley's been bad for the Mariners.

    *Vernon Wells was awful for the Angels.

  6. Hartvig Says:

    And this is in addition to 5 historically bad seasons (so far, at least) by first basemen (as discussed in "Loney snaps homerless streak" yesterday) and a few highly visible , sub-par seasons by DH's (Posada, Dunn) plus Albert Pujols very un-Albert Pujols-like season in his contract year and you have the makings of a real offensive downturn.

    Now the question is why? Is there some rule or equipment change I'm forgetting? Is this some kind of blow back from steroids? Is this just an era of dominant pitchers?

  7. Bob Hulsey Says:

    Damn! Maybe there is hope for trading Carlos Lee (OPS+ 88) after all. C'mon AL GM's! Just $18.5 million for a .251-hitting LF with 4 HRs. He's hot, too. Batting .313 with a .754 OPS in his last 28 days after being MIA in April. We won't ask for much. Just a AA prospect and some salary relief. Puh-leeeeeease!

  8. Neil L. Says:

    ".......and you have the makings of a real offensive downturn. "

    Hartvig, see my post one thread forward. I am also intrigued by the offensive downturn.

    The simple answer is lack of PEDs...... but I think that's too simplistic. Why reduced PEDs affects hitters more than pitchers, I can't tell.

  9. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Bret Gardner is essentially a CF playing LF. Gardner should be playing CF and Granderson should be in LF.

    Granderson is a perfectly cromulent CF. Gardner might well be better, but I doubt there would be much advantage gained. Yankee Stadium has a big left-center to patrol anyway. Plus Granderson is an everyday player, while Gardner will sit against some lefties. They don't want to bounce Granderson between positions based on whether Gardner is in the lineup. I have no problem with the lineup.

  10. John Autin Says:

    @9, JT -- That reference really embiggened my day! 🙂

  11. Morning News: May 30, 2011 | Crossing Wall Street Says:

    [...] American League Left Fielders are Terrible So Far [...]

  12. Yanks climb to No. 1 spot in Power Rankings | Sports Says:

    [...] (Three NL players also have that unfortunate ratio.) But Raburn is not alone: AL leftfielders collectively have an OPS+ of 83, the worst mark in more than 40 years.Power-hitting third basemen do not make for prototypical [...]

  13. Yanks climb to No. 1 spot in Power Rankings | Sports Says:

    [...] (Three NL players also have that unfortunate ratio.) But Raburn is not alone: AL leftfielders collectively have an OPS+ of 83, the worst mark in more than 40 years.  14 Power-hitting third basemen do not make for [...]